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High School Wrestling Undergoes Dramatic Changes

The National Federation of State High School Associations approved an upward shift in high school wrestling weight classes, starting with the 103-pound class, which the organization is calling "the most significant" change in weight classes in 23 years.

The NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee initially approved the change in weight classes at its April 4-6 meeting in Indianapolis, and the board of directors subsequently accepted the shift. Ten of the 14 weight classes now have new weights.

According to a press release on the NFHS' website:

The 14 weight classes approved by the committee for 2011-12 are as follows: 106 (pounds), 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220, and 285. Three middle-weight classes—145, 152, and 160—were retained, although they are 7-8-9 in order now rather than 8-9-10. The largest weight class (285 pounds) remains unchanged as well.

"The change in weight classes resulted from a three-to-four year process utilizing data from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Optimal Performance Calculator," said Dale Pleimann, chair of the Wrestling Rules Committee, in the press release. "The rules committee was able to analyze data from almost 200,000 wrestlers across the country, with the goal to create weight classes that have approximately 7 percent of the wrestlers in each weight class."

The last major shift in weight classes happened in 1988, according to the NFHS, when the lowest weight class increased from 98 to 103 pounds. Since then, the only other changes occurred in 2002, when the number of weight classes expanded from 13 to 14, and in 2006, when the 275-pound weight class was turned into the 285-pound weight class.

A total of 272,890 high school boys participated in wrestling during the 2009-10 season, according to the NFHS Athletics Participation Survey Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, making it the sixth-most-popular sport for high school boys. More than 6,000 girls in 1,009 high schools also competed in wrestling in the 2009-10 season. (Remember Cassy Herkleman, who became the first female to win a state tournament wrestling match in Iowa history in February?)

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